Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Blizzard of '14

I was born and bred in Michigan with tours of duty in Indiana and Ohio before I migrated south.  I  hail from The Great White North and have a healthy respect for winter weather.  As a kid, I remember walking on crusty drifts of snow that were far, far taller than me and… enough already!  The point is that the snow-belt and I go way back.  We are far from strangers.

Knowing this, imagine my state of mind yesterday when I was awakened from a sound slumber at 4:04 am by an incoming text alerting us that there was a winter storm warning for our area.   All day I waited nervously for the big storm.  When I went out in the early afternoon, I drove by a friend who is a teacher so I knew that school was already out -- even though the road (which had been brined the night before) was still dry as a bone.

First I stopped to mail a bunch of packages that had been cluttering up my kitchen table.  The line snaked almost out the door.  It was like Christmas in there!  Who would have guessed that, faced with a winter storm, people would rush to the post office?

Next I went grocery shopping, not because a snowstorm was imminent but because I was out of food.  Everyone that wasn't at the post office was at the grocery store and most of them were buying the same four things:  bread, eggs, milk and beer or wine.  During storms, do my neighbors make French toast and use alcohol as syrup?

As I was checking out, the cart guy came inside and loudly announced, "Storm's finally here."  Walking to my car, I did see two flakes roughly the size of fruit flies float by but there weren't even flurries on the drive home.  

Around five-ish the dreaded storm finally arrived.  A couple of hours later all the area schools had already canceled the next day's classes.  This morning the media was calling this a "treacherous blizzard" and even Jerry's work announced a two-hour delay.  (Of course, this occurred an hour-and-a-half after Jerry himself had arrived at work.)

Here's what the road looked like today during his morning commute:

Gotcha!  That is a picture my sister sent from Michigan.  THIS is what Charlotte roads looked like at six am this morning:

The Weather Channel is now naming winter storms and ours is called Leon.  Leon, which sounds more like a cute, cuddly, stuffed toy than a storm, left us an inch or two of snow and possibly even some ice.  Whereas I would hardly call what we experienced a "blizzard," I am willing to stipulate that, even though the roads look ridiculously clear, they still might be "treacherous" depending upon who is driving beside you and if they are texting while doing it. 

Pay attention today, people!  Car accidents, even fender-benders, are not funny.

Meanwhile, I can hear the sound of children's laughter.  The kids are sledding!  Yes, it's mostly just wet grass.  Yes, they are using a laundry basket instead of a sled.  Yes, they are wearing tennies not boots.  And YES, they are having tons of wintery fun!

My Grandsons in the Snow

Maybe it's time for me to see if there's enough snow on my deck to build a snowman?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Recyclable Grocery Bags

Last week Jerry read an article on how germy recyclable bags are.  According to him, leafy greens are just awash in e-coli and the little bugs hop onto the inside of my bags, clinging there forever and ever, amen.  Then, when I least expect it, they crawl out, hop on a piece of unsuspecting produce, ride up to the counter, hop onto the closest dinner plate and ultimately end up getting eaten by me.    

It's taken me a lifetime - or at least a decade - to get my husband on board with the concept of taking bags into the grocery store.  My first thought was we might backslide because of Jerry's new-found knowledge.  That was not the case.  Yesterday Jerry resolved the problem when he announced that he'd washed the three bags that we keep in his car.  He was clearly proud of himself so to underscore his accomplishment and to keep the ball rolling in the proper direction, I said I'd wash the rest of our bags tomorrow. 

Tomorrow is now today and I wonder what I could have been thinking?  Like most moms, I am intimately acquainted with the view from atop Mount Washmore but that doesn't mean I enjoy the climb.  For me, most of the laundry drama followed the kids out the door when they left for college.  I kind of like it that way.  

I collected all my grocery bags from the car, from the kitchen and from the closets.  I sorted them into which ones I thought could be machine washed and those that needed hand-laundering.  There were about a dozen that I threw into the washer and another ten that I needed to be more gentle with so I washed them in the sink.  It was more difficult than I'd imagined and my kitchen and I were both covered with bubbles and water when I finished and took the bags outside to dry.

At first I hung them in the sunshine over the railing on our front porch.  As I was cleaning up the kitchen, I realized that the railing they were draped over was bare treated lumber.  That didn't sound so healthy so I moved them to the back and hung the clean bags all over the deck chairs.  Luckily we face the woods, so nobody could see the hillbilly mess it made.

Every fifteen minutes or so, I am going outside and turning the bags.  I move the chairs down the deck as the sun travels across the sky.  Some bags dried fast, others are taking a bit longer but I do feel some satisfaction that I am wrapping up this job.

I'm happy to have this task (nearly) completed.  Now all I have to do is ask myself this one question.  Why does someone who professes to want to live a simple, uncluttered lifestyle even own over TWO DOZEN reusable grocery bags?      

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fan mail?

When I make a post on my blog, I always wonder if anyone will actually read it.  Imagine my delight when, out of the blue, I received THIS email:

Dear Aunt Chris,

I read your blog every week.  Please, please, please, PLEASE don't write any stories about me.  Ever.


Name withheld by request (but you KNOW who you are!)

Clearly, this was fan mail.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The New Year's Weigh-in

Some years ago I started the (evil) tradition of weighing everyone in the family on New Year's Day and then recording it on the calendar.  The children have grown; the tradition remains for those of us left in the house: the husband and me.

There are two schools of thought on weighing yourself, those who swear that you should weigh yourself every day and those who follow my son's philosophy, "Nothing good ever comes from stepping on the scales."  I get that obsessing over weight isn't the healthiest of behaviors, but I can't resist weighing myself in the morning any more than I can resist eating a tootsie roll out of the candy bowl at the post office.  

Two years ago after reading Dr. Rob Thompson's book, Glycemic Load Diet*, Jerry & I decided to make some changes in what we eat. In a nutshell, we cut out five foods: potatoes, rice, flour, pop and fruit juice.  It was surprisingly easy.  The weight just melted off…..Jerry.  Me?  Not so much. 

Fast forward to today:  Jerry, who wasn't even fat to begin with, has reduced his cholesterol AND gotten rid of his beer belly.  He looks twenty years younger.    The New Year's Day weigh-in was a delight for him.  "I haven't weighed THIS in DECADES!"  He squealed with joy like a teenage girl.  (Okay, maybe I made that squealing part up.  Jealousy is an ugly emotion.)

When it was my turn, I weighed myself.  Then I took off all my clothes.  Wearing only my birthday suit, I weighed myself again.  I actually weighed more the second time.  I gained .4 pounds in two seconds.  My suspicions have been confirmed -- I can gain weight just breathing. I decided not to weigh myself a third time.

The good news is that overall, I lost four pounds last year.  And, since 2011, I've shed ten pounds.  Jerry, the superstar, is down twenty-six.  

As much as I wish these figures were reversed, there is a silver lining in having my husband be the big weight-loss winner.  He may get the new clothes but I get something even better - blissful nights of uninterrupted sleep. Turns out losing weight made him quit snoring.  Who'd have guessed?

*Dr. Thompson's newest book, The Sugar Blockers Diet, outlines an even easier plan.  I'd tell you here, but I don't want to spoil the surprise.